Sunday Schools today need five basic things to be successful: prayer, interaction with the Bible, encouragement for students to ask questions, a way to respond to the lesson and homework.
As a Sunday School teacher, you hold one of the most important jobs in the church. What a privilege it is to serve the children each week. It is fair to say, that privilege does not come without a lot of hard work. It is your job to review all of your lesson plans and make sure that you are prepared to teach.
At Grapevine Studies, we understand most of you are volunteering your precious time to the children in your church each week and lesson planning takes an enormous amount of time. It is our goal to make this planning process a bit less time consuming, for a more productive schedule in your classroom; a schedule that equips your students to become learners of God’s Word! You only get so much time to impact the next generation in this class time and we want you to succeed. We have created a list of 5 things you can do to make sure you are covering the basics in your classroom.
Prayer: it seems so easy, but often we struggle with how to teach our children or students how to pray. If you are teaching in a Sunday School setting, the only time some children pray is at church. For these children, is important to include prayer every time you meet to help them learn to pray and begin to feel comfortable praying.
Model how to pray in class. As teachers, our students should hear us pray in class but also with them if they come to us with a prayer request. As often as you can, pray with and over your students.
Identifying answers to prayer is important for your students to hear. Helping them understand that the answer is not always what we want. An answer may be
Yes – No – Wait
Prayer within class, spoken aloud, should always be optional but never mandatory. As a teacher, I had students who were outgoing and loved to pray aloud for our class but others who were mortified if I asked them to pray. As the year went along, as those students became comfortable with each other and with praying aloud, they would then volunteer to pray.
As Teachers, we need to set aside time to pray for our class each week, including praying for:
With the foundation of prayer set, we move to the Bible study portion of class.
I once attended a training for Sunday School teachers given by a representative of a major Publisher. During the training, the man took his paraphrased version of the story, provided by that company, and folded it in half so he could read it, and placed it in his open Bible. He commented on the importance that the Bible was open and that children understand the Bible story. He did not read from the Bible but wanted the children to assume he was reading from the Bible.
I agree that children need to understand the Bible but this can be accomplished without sacrificing the reading directly from the Bible. This is why our method at Grapevine will have children hear/read from the Bible in each lesson. After the reading, teachers discuss the passage to summarize and discuss the verses. This often leads to questions that the children have about the Bible.
At Grapevine, we believe every child can learn the Bible at their level and as teachers we have many tools available to help us teach them.
When we only hear information, we retain a small portion of what was heard, but when we hear, see, and do our retention skyrockets! Each Bible class should have a way for students to interact with the Bible, by hearing, seeing, and doing.
With the Grapevine method, we read a passage and then have students ‘stick figure’ the passage as a means of interaction. This helps students take in the information and translate it into drawings, which embeds the information in their memories.
You can also do:
After a student has an understanding of the passage and is old enough, you can move to the next step, asking questions of a biblical passage.
3. Ask Questions of the Bible Passage during Class
Encourage your students to ask questions of a passage. You can teach them to ask the inductive Bible study questions of each passage using the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How method.
By teaching them how to ask questions, we encourage them to find the answers.
My husband has run into countless men in the oil field who attended church as a child but quit because their questions were not taken seriously nor answered. So, as teachers, encourage questions and take time to answer them. If you are like me and don’t always know the answer, you can always tell them, “let’s find out together” or “let me look that up and get back to you”.
Asking questions leads us to a point of responding to what we have learned.
Provide students with time and a means to respond to a lesson. This may be as simple as a prayer time at the end of class.
Lord, we have all been like the men of Noah’s day who disobeyed you, but we want to be like Noah who obeyed you. Forgive me of being disobedient to You. Help me this next week to do what is right and to obey your Word.
Other response ideas
It is easy to hurry children out the door of our class and on to the next church event, but when we allow the Holy Spirit time, He will change us.
The lesson does not need to end with a final classroom prayer, but can extend through the week when we provide “homework” options.
Each class should include some kind of “homework” so that the lesson continues through the week and not just a few minutes on Sunday morning.
Homework can be:
I recommend teachers find a way to touch base with their students through the week to encourage them in their homework; email, social media, or a text is a great way to inspire your students during the week.
If you are a Sunday School teacher, Thank You! You are making an impact and the efforts you put in are appreciated by the parents and other members of your church!